AN outdoor education centre used by thousands of children across Worcestershire WILL close unless a deal can be finalised to save it, say county council chiefs.

Councillor Liz Eyre, the cabinet member for children and families, says Llanrug Outdoor Education Centre will have to shut unless a takeover can be finalised.

The site, in Snowdonia, North Wales, lost £75,000 last year and the cash-strapped council wants to hand it over to a new provider to save cash.

A deal with a body called Rock UK collapsed last year, and now tentative talks have taken place with a new limited company formed by the staff to rescue it.

The Conservative cabinet has now agreed to give the green light for detailed negotiations to start, saying it wants to see a positive conclusion to a possible deal.

Coun Eyre said: “This is potentially a good news story on a long-haul issue for this council.

“As a council, while we want to move it out because it’s not part of our core business, we do appreciate its value.

“I have real hopes that this particular arrangement will lead to a successful transfer so Llanrug will not be closed, but I must add the caveat that should negotiations not be successful, Llanrug will be closed.”

Llanrug Outdoor Education Company is a new firm that will be formed by a current member of staff working at the centre.

The company has agreed to guarantee preferential rates for the children and young people of Worcestershire if a deal can be made with the council.

Councillor John Smith, the cabinet member for highways and transportation, said: “I am glad we are almost there, it’s frightening when you think about the number of discussions that have gone on over this.

“I don’t think any of us want to see this facility closed.”

The Llanrug facility is used by around 15 per cent of Worcestershire’s schools a year for trips, and is also open to other schools around the country.

The county council needs to save £98 million by 2017, which includes at least 600 job losses, to balance the books.